I find most of Heyer's romances to be enchanting reads and this book was no exception! The fun of her historical romances are in the characters, and tI find most of Heyer's romances to be enchanting reads and this book was no exception! The fun of her historical romances are in the characters, and the Duke of Avon is suitably droll and clever enough to be completely captivating. Leonie is an interesting heroine - boyish, innocent, and irrepressible - she is completely refreshing as a character because there is so much humor in how clearly and simply she sees things. And in how everyone around her has to work so hard to be proper. I found it interesting how youthful and childlike she comes off on the page, and yet her romance with the much older Duke is actually very sweet and well done. It's easy to see how well they complement each other.
The plot of the novel is mostly interesting for the unraveling of Leonie's past, of figuring out the Duke's motivations, and the way that Leonie upsets the status quo for everyone. The side characters were all so colorful and entertaining themselves - especially the Duke's siblings Fanny and Rupert. There is such a sense of cheerfulness and fun throughout this whole story - in these characters and in their wit and outlook, that augmented my enjoyment of this story. I was really impressed with how easy it was to get to know and love these characters.
This is a charming read with absolutely wonderful characterizations, vivid historical details and an interesting glimpse into the proprieties of the time. I would characterize this as Jane Austen lite, with more fun and a greater sense of the romantic. I highly recommend this to anyone looking to read a great Regency romance....more
What I'm really loving about The Queen's Thief series is how the author makes each book a different experience. A Conspiracy of Kings takes on a diffeWhat I'm really loving about The Queen's Thief series is how the author makes each book a different experience. A Conspiracy of Kings takes on a different narrative style, a different narrator, and brings the reader more into the political world of Sounis. Although my favorite character, Eugenides, features less in this book, I was glad to read more about Sophos who was a great character in the first book, and becomes much more mature and hardened in this, without losing too much of his idealism and enthusiasm for learning that really made me love him in the first book.
I'm generally not a fan of heavy politics in stories, but Megan Whalen Turner manages to make it intriguing and gripping (just like in the second book The Queen of Attolia) especially when the ambitious barons directly antagonize Sophos. It's also interesting how important it is to have read the first three books to really understand how important the actions of the regents of the three nations are. And the way the history of these nations are continually developed through each book made me feel like I really understood the world and how it works. It's fantastic storytelling!
Where I was a tiny bit disappointed was in how the pace sometimes flagged - especially with how Sophos in captivity. Those scenes were important for Sophos in many ways, and it helped to build Sophos into an even stronger, more sympathetic character, but I found myself really looking forward to when Sophos would find a way out. Towards the end though there are fantastic, tension-filled scenes as Sophos fights for Sounis, and it's again highly impressive how invested I was in the political maneuverings of these nations.
There's an understated romance weaved into the story which I really enjoyed. Which surprises me because I usually go for more demonstrative romances, but it is really done well in this book - especially in the way the narrative flows - because even though we don't see our hero and heroine together a lot, you know by the way Sophos speaks that he is always thinking of her.
We see more of characters I've fallen in love with from the previous books, and more action, adventure and mishaps to keep every installment exciting, so I really hope there will be another book out in this series soon! Because I adore the series and the author so much!...more
Daphne du Maurier's novel on time travel and history was a particularly captivating read for me. Because of the time travel aspect obviously and the sDaphne du Maurier's novel on time travel and history was a particularly captivating read for me. Because of the time travel aspect obviously and the scientific approach to it, but also because I kind of think of it as watching a train wreck. Hear me out. It's because as I read more of it, the sense that things were going to end unhappily became more and more pronounced. The sense is hard to pinpoint, but seeing how unhappy Dick is with his real life, and the way he becomes obsessed with seeing lives that have nothing to do with him and which he can never participate in became gradually nervewracking. I didn't think he should keep trying to make visits to the Medieval past, but he was compelled to keep going.
It was interesting to read how Dick develops as a character. As a reader I felt very sympathetic with him and his uncertainty about his future. He seems to love his wife, but he also pushes her away in ways that at first seemed natural (she did seem kind of annoying) but then somewhere in the middle of the book, it seemed like maybe he was being unfair. I love that about Daphne du Maurier's writing - there is an unpredictability in her characters that keeps the suspense going. She can turn these characters around and make it completely believable.
The past that Dick finds himself in is just as compelling as Dick's present; there are many characters introduced and it does get a bit confusing in the beginning but all that exposition sorts itself out and the main players in the drama of the past becomes clearer. At first I did find Dick's attraction (if I can call it that) to Lady Isolda to be a little bit odd and a little too instantaneous, but after finishing the novel I think there is a reason to support why that was. Except that is just one of the things that is nebulous about the ending of this story. It's something the author does often I think - to give a chance for the reader to interpret the ending in their own way - which was a little disappointing because I wanted to have more answers.
Time travel in this story is very intriguing though. Dick's friend Magnus created a potion that caused your consciousness to travel into the past, but not your body, so that Dick was always trying to independently prove that he was not hallucinating and that what he was seeing had really happened. The idea that you can poke your head into the past is very appealing, and probably addicting as Dick finds out, and the idea that while he was in the past, anything could be happening to his body is another very suspenseful plot point.
This story is very well-written and intricately plotted and while it does take time to start up in the beginning, it becomes fascinating to visit the past with Dick and to read how his life becomes corrupted by the time travel....more
If you haven't read the first two books in this series, OMG just read it already!!! Ahem. I meant to say I can no longer contain the spoilers and it'sIf you haven't read the first two books in this series, OMG just read it already!!! Ahem. I meant to say I can no longer contain the spoilers and it's better to pass over this review until you've read The Thief and The Queen of Attolia. I mean, really. These books are so good, just read it.
The narration switches again - this time to limited third-person omniscient with a new character - Costis. Now that Eugenides is King of Attolia, there are so many things against him, and through Costis' very biased eyes, it doesn't seem like Eugenides is bearing up too well under the pressure of court, the disdain of everyone around him, and the possibility that his wife doesn't really love him. But with two books detailing how Eugenides is pretty much always in control, I was so eager to read how he would turn things around. And this book was another clever installment of the Eugenides Is Awesome show! Even at those darkest moments when Eugenides seemed truly beaten, it was glorious to keep that belief in the character while reading, and to not be disappointed by the end. I continue to admire the way the author builds on Eugenides' character by showing the depth of his humanity and intelligence behind his wicked sense of humor and his carefully deceptive antics.
Costis as the main narrator, was also a wonderful character to get to know. He's obviously mistaken in his opinion of Eugenides, but gradually he comes to respect his king, and with that also gains the respect of the reader. His character arc is the most important in the book, and the author does a wonderful job of showcasing his growth and his estimable personality. And while we are learning more about Costis, we also learn about the smaller scale politics of Attolia which echoes what was explored in The Queen of Attolia, but now we see why the Queen is so cold and distant, and in the background what Eugenides is doing to change that. This story has layers upon layers - it's glorious!
This is another stellar installment of The Queen's Thief series - I might even say it's my favorite of the three so far - because of it's depth and it's climax - the book builds to a moment when Eugenides shows his hand, and it's a very satisfying conclusion. This series continues to be the most satisfying read I've had for awhile!...more
After reading the first book in this series - The Thief - I had to pick up the second immediately. There's just something about these characters and hAfter reading the first book in this series - The Thief - I had to pick up the second immediately. There's just something about these characters and how well they all work together that kept me so invested. And in the second book everything about the world is expanded. The narrative switches to third person omniscient (The Thief was in first person) and I thought that was an effective switch because the story became more emotional and suspenseful once you can see the points of view of so many characters - their plans and true feelings - even though Eugenides' thoughts and plans are even more obscured.
Even though the reader knows less about what Eugenides is really doing, it is interesting how sure I felt that he had a plan and it would work. He's such a great character because he's so clever and calculating, but he can also be so frustrating. And I love how I can feel completely surprised by something he does, and yet immediately see how the character and the reader were led to that action and so it all makes sense. Even with the big reveal of Eugenides feelings towards the end, I was both expecting and disbelieving of it. It's just brilliant storytelling and characterization!
We see more of the worldbuilding with the very intense political maneuverings of the three nations (well four technically with one more on the outskirts) and it's another tribute to Megan Whalen Turner's writing that this part of the book still captivated me because I'm not usually very interested in politics. But the potential consequences of one nation taking over another were so important to these characters that I found all the drama compelling. Especially when it came to seeing what Eugenides was going to do about it!
This book kept me constantly engaged with all the twists and the clever way in which the author managed to tell the reader so much, but the true meaning of it only comes much later in the story. Eugenides is also one of the best, most fascinating characters I have ever come across, and I loved every unbelievable feat he managed to pull off. This series is an absolute must-read!...more
It is so difficult to review this book because it is an excellent read, but to really delve into why it is excellent might detract from the experienceIt is so difficult to review this book because it is an excellent read, but to really delve into why it is excellent might detract from the experience for new readers! And I really think it helped going into this story with little expectations. It does take a bit of time for the story to pick up, but I did find the author's descriptions of the world and of the lives of these people so vivid as to be completely fascinating, and I enjoyed all the details.
I think this story has a perfect blend of character development, plot and world building. All three support each other so well to tell the story. Just when it is necessary to know more about a character, the information is dropped in - as well as the information concerning the beliefs and politics of the world, and the purpose of the story. The plot does seem aimless at times in the beginning, but I enjoyed how everything was made clear as things that were hinted or briefly mentioned in the beginning became important. The story builds very well as we get to know more about the characters and their motivations.
Gen is such a fun character - wry, unrepentant, and very cocksure - he narrates the book and keeps the flow of the story entertaining with his observations of his fellow travelers. Everybody it seems has secrets in this book, and it really felt like I was there on this journey of discovery with these characters as I continued to read. The writing, the characters and the world building - with it's influences of Greek mythology - all felt real and striking. I think when it comes to a book of this kind of fantasy, there is an expectation of real emotional poignancy. And there were a couple emotional moments in this book that could have been very affecting, but the plot moved too quickly to dwell on it. That made this story lighter fantasy fare - which is nice to read sometimes because it is just pure entertainment.
This is a fantastic adventure tale with some surprising twists and great characters. And I've heard that the second book "The Queen of Attolia" is much better, so I'm really looking forward to finding out why!...more
This is such a fun, frothy, and charming read! The main character is sometimes too honest so her observations of the other characters are amusing andThis is such a fun, frothy, and charming read! The main character is sometimes too honest so her observations of the other characters are amusing and cuts to the truth - generally though, because there is humor in how she sometimes doesn't get things right. The story is a simple one - with misunderstandings and disagreeable relatives creating most of the drama. The fun is in seeing how Althea uses her wits to get out of the situations she finds herself in.
While I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly, I wouldn't say it is anything innovative. It's a lovely romance with familiar character archetypes for the Regency era - spiteful sisters, a loving mother, the different breeds of prospective suitors - a very agreeable, good looking gentleman, an older, slightly repellent man, and a nicer older man. And then there's Mr. Fredericks. He's a different sort of Regency hero - as he's bookish, interested in science and figuring out things, and doesn't have very good manners. His clashes with Althea are cute and endearing, even if he started off as a little too rude in the beginning. There's some wonderful commentary in this book on the place of a woman and what is expected of her versus what a man expects from a bride. There's also a great comparison between Althea and her beauty and her dear, plain friend Miss Vincy with the heart of gold. I think the commentary on the situations the characters are in is more interesting than some of the characters themselves, and that gives this story more depth.
The romance is a little different from romances of this period, but I didn't quite like the resolution. It was very sweet but a little too anemic for me - and not romantic enough. I suppose it fit with the characters and made sense but I felt a little let down by it. Overall though, this is really a charming story, and fun to reread for all the entertaining scenes and characterizations....more
This short story starts off with Neil Gaiman's signature ominous introduction - that's spare in words, but packs a lot of emotion. The villains of theThis short story starts off with Neil Gaiman's signature ominous introduction - that's spare in words, but packs a lot of emotion. The villains of the piece - the Kin - are conceptually complex and I love the idea that all of the them are one. I think for such a short story this was a really engaging Doctor Who adventure that brought all of the characters to life. I really loved how menacing the Kin are - especially when they go around in friendly masks! And how such an innocuous question can become so frightening.
The ideas behind how the Kin operates are a little confusing at first - you really need to think about it I think, but they are kind of a genius alien being, and I really hope they make it onto the show someday! I loved how Neil Gaiman captured the Doctor and Amy's voices as well, and how he made the life of a little girl very important.
This is actually the first e-short I've read from the 50th Anniversary series, and if they are of this same quality, I know I will enjoy them all!...more
I so loved Alexandra Bracken's second novel The Darkest Minds, that I was eager to read her first novel and her take on young adult fantasy. This is aI so loved Alexandra Bracken's second novel The Darkest Minds, that I was eager to read her first novel and her take on young adult fantasy. This is a standalone tale (finally!) and it has all the elements of a good fantasy story - a wizard, a quest and a journey with romance and magic sprinkled throughout. The story moves quickly and kept my interest throughout (especially with the mysteriously troubled Wayland North) and I found the story very enjoyable.
As I said before the plot does move quickly, and at times the thought processes of the characters can be a little unclear in my opinion as they made decisions or came to conclusions that did't always feel well explained. The magic elements and the world-building are just enough to get into the fantasy aspect, but I think the characters are the best part of this story. Sydelle is fiery and emotional and Wayland masks his worries with a carefree demeanor and it was interesting to read them getting to know and admire each other. I loved how protective they are of each other and how so many times they tried to make sacrifices for the other but it is barely appreciated. Their relationship really drives the narrative forward, especially when it comes to certain secrets that made for pretty shocking reveals towards the end.
The twists and turns of the story and the slowly built romance made this a wonderful read for me, and I loved how well the author tied up each character's story. This is a lovely book with a great pace and sympathetic, likable characters....more
This is a Quick Read adventure, but it packs in a very clever and entertaining story in just 110 pages! The Angels are of course brilliantly scary monThis is a Quick Read adventure, but it packs in a very clever and entertaining story in just 110 pages! The Angels are of course brilliantly scary monsters and the author uses them to good effect. The idea of a magician using an Angel to create an ultimate disappearing act was a great one, and the danger that is always at hand when an Angel is loose made for some very tense moments in this story. The time travel aspect was also well done when the reader realizes what has happened to the assistants who have disappeared.
The author also captured the banter and camarderie of the Doctor, Amy and Rory very well and it was nice to see that Rory had an important role in the story, that he was very suited for because he's a nurse. I think the author made all the quirks of the characters work very well in the narrative and it made this a believable adventure for the trio.
It's too bad this is such a short read, but it does have some great moments - like the Doctor donning the Third Doctor's outfit! - and I would recommend this one to every Doctor Who fan!...more
The Color of Light attracted my attention for a couple of reasons - I was interested in the forbidden romance nature of the story, and because RaphaelThe Color of Light attracted my attention for a couple of reasons - I was interested in the forbidden romance nature of the story, and because Raphael is a vampire. I also love intensely romantic stories and this book did not disappoint in any of those aspects. In fact, once the story get's going it's full of this tragic, aching tension as Rafe and Tessa explore their feelings for each other and yet the rules of the school and Rafe's past keeps them apart. I felt there was a touch of Wuthering Heights in this story (and it is mentioned briefly in the book) but thankfully this is a love story (Wuthering Heights can get a little iffy in that regard) as well as a story about life.
The novel is rather epically long, and there are a lot of descriptive passages on the art and architecture of the student's works and their surroundings. It's very informative about art and possibly critical of modern art (but I totally agree with the viewpoints of the students and Rafe), however it can take time to become invested in the story and characters because of this. I think in the end, I was not as invested in Tessa's found family as much as I wanted to be, which makes me feel that there was a lot more that could have been streamlined in the story. Tessa's relationship with Lucian was also a little tedious and I just wanted to shake Tessa to get her to move on already. But Tessa's friends do have an important part to play, and this really didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story overall.
The past is important and is perfectly and thoughtfully portrayed in the scenes where we learn more about why Rafe is so troubled and haunted. The author worked in the romance of Rafe and Sofia and the terror of the Holocaust to make this novel even more intense and poignant. I sometimes felt I liked Sofia more than Tessa because Sofia felt more flawed and tragic and real, while Tessa was too perfect sometimes. But reading about the past did wonders in bringing out Rafe's Byronic nature, and I found him to be such a complex and intriguing character. The times when he exerted his magnetic influence and the times he was heartbreakingly vulnerable really brought out his character for me, and I'm a little bit in love with him, okay?
The story swept me up in it's tender melancholy, and I found the story to be very beautiful and very sad. With the relationship between a vampire and a human there are some difficult questions that are brought up, but I loved that the story really focused on just taking one day at a time. It also brought a very nice conclusion to the past that haunted Rafe. If this story has any elements that interest you, I'd recommend reading it for the intelligent take on a vampire love story.
(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)...more
This was a very interesting read for me because the beginning of the book was so slow, and sets up these characters that I felt very little connectionThis was a very interesting read for me because the beginning of the book was so slow, and sets up these characters that I felt very little connection to (except for book-loving Ivy). I would have liked this book better I think if it was all from Ivy's perspective, as it does switch in the middle to her first person POV. It was a strange way to set up the story I thought, but with all the awkward set-up, this story does blossom after about 100 pages, and becomes a very fascinating examination of character with an ominous Gothic atmosphere. I almost felt like the first third of the book was very Austen-esque, while the middle was Bronte-esque (a la Jane Eyre), and the last third wrapped up these two disparate tones with an exciting conclusion.
The first section of the novel, sets up the world of Altania, and the somewhat bewildering world-building which involves a magical society of magicians, illusionists and witches - some of whom people no longer believe in, but they do actually exist, or they think of them as evil or something. I wasn't sure how all this came to be. The story sets up three separate main characters - Ivy and her family, Mr. Rafferdy, a well to do, insouciant member of the upper class, and his friend, Eldyn, a down on his luck member of the gentry. While they all had their dramas, I felt the story jumped around between them so much, that it was hard to feel invested in their concerns for the most part. Although Ivy and her wish to help her father was the strongest aspect.
I was personally more invested in the Bronte-esque section with Ivy and Mr. Quent, so I want to highlight what I found so enjoyable about that section. Since Ivy was my favorite character in the book, it was great to see her cope with her new situation, far from home and dealing with two children who can apparently see something others can not. This section was darker and more suspenseful, and I felt dug deeper character-wise than the previous 100 pages of the book did into the myriad of characters we were introduced to. The setting and the atmosphere seemed more straightforward as well, and I better understood what was at stake for the characters. Even though Mr. Quent had his household had their secrets. I feel like it's so rare for me to be so in love with a book after such an unappealing beginning, but I'm happy to say that was exactly the case.
With all the character introductions finished, the last third of the book goes back to the characters introduced in the beginning and we see the changes their decisions have made in their lives. That was an intriguing aspect of the book as well, since everything really started coming together, and the stakes became a bit clearer for each of the three main characters's stories. It was hard to put the book down, because so many things were happening, and the pace of the action was perfect. The book finished beautifully, with a satisfying conclusion, but still some questions and room for development for the rest of the series. I think this could be a fantastic series on the whole, despite the awkward start, so I highly recommend this detailed and intriguing, Regency-esque fantasy with strongly written characters....more